A heat wave in Greenland, with temperatures more than ten degrees above seasonal norms, caused a melting episode this week « massive » of the Greenlandic ice cap, glaciologists have warned.
Since Wednesday, the ice cap that covers the vast arctic land has melted about 8 billion tonnes every day, double the average rate during the summer period, according to recent data from Polar Portal, a modeling tool managed by Danish research institutes.
Unusual temperatures of over 20 degrees, with local records, have been recorded in northern Greenland in recent days, according to the Danish meteorological institute DMI.
At the small Nerlerit Inaat airport in northeast Greenland, the mercury hit 23.4 degrees on Thursday, the highest level measured since the weather station began readings and warmer than the maximum temperature recorded in Denmark That day.
This heat wave, which also affected much of the vast arctic territory, resulted in an accelerated rate of melting of the ice sheet. By way of comparison, the immense volume of molten water released daily in recent days – 8,000 billion liters of fresh water – “Would suffice to cover the entire surface of Florida with five centimeters of water”, emphasizes Polar Portal.
Greenland’s daily melting record, which dates from the summer of 2019, has not been broken, but the part of Greenlandic territory where the ice has melted is larger than two years ago, the site said. arctic surveillance.
Very rapid warming up
Second ice cap after Antarctica, with an area of nearly 1.8 million square kilometers, the ice sheet covering Greenland is of concern to scientists, as Arctic warming is three times faster than elsewhere in the world.
Its decline, which began several decades ago, has accelerated since 1990 and continues to get carried away. According to a European study published in January, the melting of the Greenland icecap should contribute to the general rise in the level of the oceans to the height of 10 to 18 centimeters by 2100, or 60% faster than the previous estimate. The Greenlandic cap contains in total enough to raise the oceans by 6 to 7 meters.
Due to a relatively cool start to summer with snow and rain, the ice cap’s decline in 2021 is still within the historical average for the time being, according to Polar Portal. The melting period extends from June to early September.